I visit my counselor every few weeks to keep everything in good working order. There are many times we chat about life-in-general during my visits. Today was not one of those times.
I arrived with a list. That was a first.
At the top of my list was to eliminate the “startle” response. He asked me to explain a little about that.
“You know,” I replied, “that thing that makes me jump two feet in the air every time there’s a loud noise. It’s horrible! I don’t mind my friends laughing at me, but it’s actually painful to have my heart beat that hard, and the adrenaline feels like fire in my veins.”
He casually mentioned that’s part of PTSD. He’s never really mentioned any diagnosis before, and hearing it so casually stated was a little like being told I have a huge wart on my forehead that I hoped no one had ever noticed. Slightly uncomfortable to say the least. He’s a dear with a dry sense of humor, though, and made me laugh when he said that I’m allergic to my own stress.
There is a huge amount of truth in that. Not just for me, I believe it’s true for most people.
Stress releases hormones that are toxic to the body when taken in large or prolonged doses. Additionally, stress reduces our ability to rationally process data, so we get caught in reactive mode. Stress makes us do stupid things and causes accidents. For example, have you ever stubbed your toe when you were completely relaxed? Precious few have; stubbed toes are usually the result of rushing to do some ‘important’ thing which becomes not-so-important immediately after impact.
I believe PTSD caused the lymphocytic colitis and other gastrointestinal problems I’ve had. Bleeding ulcers at three years old just isn’t normal.
PTSD probably had a lot to do with my anorexia, too.
My PTSD was not created in combat. Well, not in the Armed Forces. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my home was a combat zone before I arrived, and did not get better from there.
My PTSD was created by years of emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical abuse, with a few bouts of sexual abuse thrown in for good measure.
I don’t mean to sound flip. I’ve actually come to a point of acceptance that allows me to look at the experiences of my childhood as something that I planned while in spirit form.
That viewpoint may or may not be fact, but it has proven to be a tremendously effective coping mechanism. It’s much more peaceful and healing than being resentful about the experiences and the people involved.
Having overcome many of the effects of PTSD, I can now help others in their journey.
We survived. We are still breathing, and that is proof enough that we survived.
Now it is time to THRIVE!
PTSD is not for wussies. The reactions (read RE-ACTION… acting again) can be as painful for those who love us as they are for us. It’s time to thrive, to grow past the reactions, deactivate the ‘hot buttons,’ tune back in to our internal guidance system, and join the party that life was meant to be.
I’d love to know what your favorite deactivation technique is. If you don’t have one, I’d be honored to facilitate your discovery process!